Time For JRPGs To Get Rid Of Voice Acting

You ever get to that point in a Japanese role-playing game? You know. The point where you want to turn it off. There you are, killing monsters and levelling up and minding your own business, when in comes a pair of tiny twins or a cackling rogue to ruin your day with voice acting that even Kristen Stewart would call hammy.

Voice acting is the worst.

Let me explain. While playing a console RPG made in Japan, you'll usually follow a progression that looks something like town -> cut-scene -> dungeon -> cut-scene -> town -> cut-scene -> dungeon. And again and again and again until you beat the game.

In the old days, those cut-scenes consisted of animated sprites wobbling around your screen to the tune of (usually awesome) grand melodies. We'd scroll through text boxes and scanned as much dialogue as we felt like reading. Sometimes the translations would be mangled or the lines would sound awkward, but that wouldn't matter all that much because nobody was saying them out loud. Our minds automatically corrected the mistakes and filled in the blanks.

Today, a big-budget console JRPG, like most big-budget console video games, presents its cut-scenes as full-fledged short films, complete with experimental camera angles, ostentatious set pieces, and... voice acting. Instead of reading text boxes and imagining how our favourite heroes sound, we get to listen to them talk.

In theory this should be awesome. It should allow writers to tell better stories. Voice acting, an art that has become an integral part of video games over the past half-decade, should help us empathise and fall in love with the large casts of divergent characters that inhabit RPGs.

The voice acting of your average JRPG is stiff, shrill, and whiny. It's like listening to Xbox Live

In practice it is not awesome. The voice acting of your average JRPG is stiff, shrill, and whiny. It's like listening to Xbox Live.

It's hard to describe precisely why a JRPG's voice acting can be so bad, much like it's hard to describe what makes good acting good acting. There are so many little choices that an actor makes -- what sort of inflection to put on every syllable, how to pronounce certain words, which emotional reactions to try and capture -- that it's impossible to look at a work of voice acting and objectively gauge whether it's "good" or "bad".

But what I can judge is how it makes me feel. And when a bit of dialogue makes me shout "oh come on" and throw things at my screen, when it makes me feel the urge to turn off my console and do something less mawkish, like knitting or poetry-writing, I think it's safe to say that dialogue doesn't work. I'm sure you've been there.

My suspicion is that good voice acting, like good acting or good writing or good ninja-ing, is totally invisible. When I play The Last Story, for example, one of my favourite RPGs from the past few years, I don't think things like "gosh darn these Brits sound authentic." I don't even realise that there's acting involved. Voiceovers are bad when you notice they're there.

So when I'm sitting down with a modern console JRPG -- like, say, Infinite Undiscovery or Tales of Vesperia or Star Ocean: The Last Hope -- and I'm listening to some characters talk, I hate that all I can think about is how awful they sound. How annoying. Out of place. Whiny.

This all occurred to me as I was sitting on a flight from New York to Seattle, playing the hell out of the new iPad version of The World Ends With You. "Why is this so awesome?" I started asking myself. There are a few reasons, one of which is that the dialogue is sharp, smart, and real. Characters interrupt one another. They speak in short, pointed sentences. They don't always say what they mean.

This is the sort of dialogue that works because nobody's speaking it out loud. Voice actors don't have to struggle over soundbites like "augh" and "nngh." The translators were able to write engaging lines without having to worry about how they'd sound out loud. That can be surprisingly liberating.

Voice acting can be detrimental to a game's development for other reasons, too. For one, all that sound equipment and voice talent costs a lot of money. Money that could be used to, say, hire more writers. Writers like Kiyoshi Shigematsu, the talented Japanese author whose brilliant short stories make Lost Odyssey worth playing. (Those stories, by the way: not voice acted.)

And as the talented Kirk Hamilton explained last year on this website, voice acting detracts from the music behind every scene. (Note: Kirk is not so talented at voice acting.)

Here's one of the most powerful scenes in Final Fantasy VII (transcribed via GameFAQs):

Cloud: ...Aerith. This can't be real!

Sephiroth: Do not worry. Soon the girl will become part of the Planet's energy. All that is left is to go North. The 'Promised Land' waits for me over the snowy fields. There I will become a new being by uniting with the planet. As will this girl......

Cloud: ...Shut up. The cycle of nature and your stupid plan don't mean a thing. Aerith is gone. Aerith will no longer talk, no longer laugh, cry...... or get angry...... What about us...... what are WE supposed to do? What about my pain? My fingers are tingling. My mouth is dry. My eyes are burning!

Sephiroth: What are you saying? Are you trying to tell me you have feelings too?

Cloud: Of course! Who do you think I am!?

Let's try to imagine what that scene would be like with voice acting.

...

You know what. Never mind. Let's just move on.

I feel a little sorry for the folks who have to translate big-budget Japanese games into English. When a translator works on cut-scenes, he or she has to come up with English lines that are timed perfectly to fit with the animations of the Japanese lines. This is much more difficult than it seems: when Japanese is translated to English, dialogue can be shortened or lengthened by drastic amounts. For translators it can be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle where you have to invent all the pieces.

Text boxes are significantly less challenging, which is why the most creative, engaging Japanese translations tend to be found in games with no voice acting. (See: Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. Did you really think I could go an entire column without bringing that game up?)

The best translations can also come when there are no cut-scenes to worry about. Look at the beginning scene of Nier, for example. Listen to how passionate the words are, how quickly they grab your attention. They work because they're spoken over a dark screen. The localizers didn't have to worry about timing or pacing or matching up with lip caps. They could just write.

And, hey, sometimes voice acting can work quite well. Nier is a good example, as is the aforementioned The Last Story. But even a single irritating or poorly-delivered line can take you right out of a story. It can make you want to stop playing. It's even made some players hate the genre.

So what's the solution? Should we switch to silent mode? Is it really feasible for JRPG developers to get rid of voice acting entirely?

I wish I had an answer. Maybe more RPGs should take after series like Mario, where instead of voice acting, characters all make weird (adorable) noises while chattering. Maybe they should find some combination of voice-acted lines and silent lines, like Persona 3. Maybe they should telepathically transfer dialogue to our brains.

But the current system isn't working. And when I play a game like The World Ends With You, or Trails in the Sky, or Mother 3, or Radiant Historia, or any of the other well-translated, well-written, well-produced Japanese RPGs out there, I can't help but wonder how much better some games would be if the characters would all just shut up.

Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.


Comments

    Sounds like you're playing a lot of bad dubs. Generally, the jappanese originals are better, although there are a few standout gems like Persona 4 out there.

    It all depends on what actors they use, same as any movie. There's some good ones, some great ones, and some god awful ones. Fuuka in Persona 3 made me want to rip my ears off. So annoyed she replaced Mitsuru, but Persona 4 had perfect voice acting (let's see how The Golden goes with new actors...) so there is hope out there.

      I agree. The english voice-acting is a hit or miss, mostly the latter. Heck I reckon even the Japanese could make better english dubs. This is why localization teams need to start implementing dual audio so that everyone may have the option of switching to their preferred langauge, there are far too few games that have this feature.

      I agree the problem is nothing to do with JRPGs and more with idiot English Voice Casting director. They seem to think that anybody small needs to have a screechy voice and anybody who is a girl needs to have stupid high-pitched voice.

      VA in Japan is big, those people are usually popular idols/celebrities at the same time and it's considered a good job. They deliver their lines with passion. Western VA on the other hand, with a few notable exceptions generally just speak in a half-hearted manner. I remember one JRPG I played, where the text on the screen implies that the character is screaming, in the original Japanese, the VA screamed for real. You can hear the passion he put in it. The same scene in English? The English VA basically talked loudly.

        Sound like they're reading the ingredients list on the back of a can of soup, and they're really excited about it.

    Look up Arc Rise Fantasia voice acting clips on YouTube for truly terrible voice acting.

    From the voiced jrpgs i've played, including FF13, valkyria 2 and lost odyssey I'll have to agree. The reflective or sad monologues worked when it was just text, like in FF7 and FF8, but sounds really whiny like in FF13.
    And the happy-go lucky inspiration speeches sound super-cliched and campy when its voiced, but acceptable when it was in text, again, comparing FF8 to FF13 or valkyria 2.

    I heard FF10 and persona 4 was good, so i'll play the hd versions and see.

      Wait until you get up to the 'laugh' scene in FFX :P

        Oh god, i was waiting for someone to mention that, but i have to admit the japanese laugh isn't much better, unless you like crows

          You just reminded me of this, and I hate you just a little bit for it.
          /hands on waist
          AAAAAAAAAAAH HAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAA

        AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!11111!!!11!!

          If anything, Avan's laugh in Valkyria Chronicles is even worse because it's so forced and is mixed in as a generic dialogue soundbyte. So in a couple hours, you'd hear it maybe 6-8 times.

          http://youtu.be/ZqIGPwTUX1Y

        someone had to bring that up...

        the voice acting was pretty good, however people pick on that scene when the laughter was meant to be bad, you gotta know the context before you judge that scene!

        i'll admit the laughing sound freaking stupid (and yes, the japanese version is like a crow) but the scene actually had a lot of meaning behind it.

        if you didn't notice already, i'm a FFX fanboy...

          Thanks for this. It's a shame people forget about the whole "I'm a thousand years in the future. Everyone I know is dead. My home is destroyed..." thing and just go 'lol bad voice voice acting why are they laughing lol.'

            Finally, some sense!

          Agree'd, Tidus (the character who is doing the bad laughing) is trying to cheer someone up, so he does some really bad fake laughing, and then the other characters laugh (genuinely) at him, same as we do.

          So if anything FFX 'laugh' scene is an example of great voice acting, as it inspires the same reaction in us as it was meant to in the characters.

            the problem is that even the real laugh was pretty bad

    all it really takes is one badly voice-acted character to put a damper on an otherwise decent piece of work. This can either be because of the VA themselves doing a poor job (Claudia Black sadly in Uncharted 2, just felt disjointed as though she missed a good deal of her cues but it wasn't tidied up on an editing table), a badly selected accent for a character (Vanille FF13) or a single scene in an otherwise great game that you secretly hope they cut from a soon-to-be-made HD remastering...(I'm looking at you Yuna/Tidus).
    Eternal Sonata is an example of a game that gets voice acting right. It has a wide cast of eclectic characters each with a VA that not only imparts emotion into scenes that require it without making them sound cheese filled, but manages to deliver their lines in a natural, flowing manner that helps further the game in a positive way.

      I didn't think Claudia Black was too bad but to whoever did Vanille... ugh! I think it's also true when there's a good voice actor who has a very recognisable voice (NOLAN NORTH >:( ). It's like whenever I hear them I just think of someone else they've played and it detracts from who they're currently playing.

        Weirdly, the actress who plays Vanille is the only genuine Australian in the cast; she was previously Angelina Ballerina. Vanille sounds dodgy because they gave her an impossible role: to sound like an Australian genki girl, but we don't have genki girls.

          she is? i saw a interview with her and she had a very clear american accent...

          maybe that wasn't her then...

            It's a terrible Aussie accent tuned to Japanese schoolgirl pitch, the perkiness is turned up to 11. Eurgh. There have been decent Aussie accents in games (ME2 and Uncharted 2 come to mind) but that was downright excruciating. Especially as an Aussie, it made my skin crawl like Crocodile Dundee all over again.

              I couldnt tell if chole was aussie or british 0_0

              to be fair even "real" aussie accents can sound slightly off to me in thease things

    When I first read the title all I could think was "no." but you presented your arguments in a logical manner and after reading it, I have to agree. Jason Schreier is probably my favourite Kotaku US writer because he actually writes good articles.

    I think games from the 'Tales of' franchise does it right. Not necessarily the quality of the voice acting (I personally don't think it's too bad) but the way it has speech bubbles with text that you can read at your own pace. I think ideally I would prefer something like this (with excellent voice acting of course) that also has the option of turning off voice acting or swapping to another language. Give people a choice. If I recall Lost Odyssey had something like 5 voiced languages you could pick from, I didn't play with anything other than English but I liked having the option. Similarly Blue Dragon also had the original Japanese voices and as 'authentic' as Japanese voices are, because I only know English I tend to just play on English dubs anyway but the dub was so horrible in Blue Dragon I immediately changed it to the Japanese voices and never looked back.

    Most of the titles he liked were on portables where voice acting might not be as easy to do because of hardware limitations. I can't think of a DS RPG with full voice acting. Something tells me if given the chance they'd probably add in voice acting anyway.

    I guess the only bad thing, even with good voice acting is the way it can overpower the music. I never really thought about it like that but he raised a good point. I can't think of any recent games with voice acting that had memorable and emotional cutscene music. Most of the songs I like from recent games are just background tunes that play during general, un-voiced gameplay.

    Not sure where I was going with this but I was bored :P

      Normally the Tales dubs are really good because they use people who know what they're doing. Unfortunately they've started using the usual stable of ten or so people that do every anime dub ever and as a result, the more recent games (Symphonia 2 and Graces) are an incredibly mixed bag.

      Lost Odyssey may have had five dubs but the lip movements were all synced to the English dub so watching anything else felt really odd.

    I know this is a JRPG column, but I'd say it extends to Western RPGs too. There's something about voice acting that just grates in general. Maybe it's because I read can simply read the text three times as fast?

      I've never played JRPG with voice acting so I can't really comment on that score, but I would agree that giving Cloud a voice would be.... unwise. The same more or less goes for many of the great RPGs down the years, there's something about imagining the voice, as opposed to having it being given to you, that gives the player that much more immersion. It works well in certain games to be sure, but I daresay I could play The Witcher as a purely text dialogue RPG without complaining about immersion.

    Voice acting can certainly throw off the mood when an accent is unexpected. But honestly i think its got more to do with scripting and tone in Japanese than the acting itself. These actors just do what is required of them

    This article is right on the money. I imagined xenogears or FF7 voice acted and shuddered. Perhaps this is why I hate the new FFs. On a strange note, I've been playing Xenoblade completely in Japanese and have found the lines to come across as really corny. I listened to the English dub and actually found it to be more accurate with the characters personality (Dunban particularly). Last Story was amazing as well

      I thought Xenoblade had better English voice acting than The Last Story. Both were good though!

    I switch to jap voices if i can

    I have no problems with voice acting. Better than the alternative.
    You think bad VA ruins the pacing of dialogue, you've completely forgotten how slow a game becomes when reams of text are used to convey the story.

      This is an artifact of our modern culture in which kids recoil when there's a book in sight as thought just touching it would make them one of those dreadful and hated "nerds".

      Whenever I hear complains on how slow and bothersome is to have to read dialogue or how impossible is to read subtitles in foreign movies in real time I can only shake my head and mourn for the fate of humanity as more and more imbecility is added to its gene pool and its already a socially aceeptable and encouraged trait. Sorry for making you read "all" this, but I seriously couldn't constrict it to the 140 characters that seems to be the acceptable top of readable writing nowadays.

        Arrogant comment is arrogant. You can still prefer voice acting in one medium and like to read. I don't like reams of text in my games because its time spent not really playing them.

        FYI: You sound like a self-indulgent douche. As someone who tries to fit in a new book each fortnight, I read faster than characters talk but watching a well-directed cinematic, with good writing and quality voice acting is an immersive experience because THAT'S HOW WE OBSERVE SOCIAL INTERACTION IRL! What part of this can't you understand? I would rather watch a good dub (few and far between) than a subtitle because my eyes don't have to be distracted from something the director otherwise wants me to pay attention to; facial cues, nuance, easter eggs etc.

        Your attitude is extremely condescending and you evidently have a huge superiority/persecution complex. Even if someone disagrees, that's no right for you to go on such a disgusting spiel about how stupid everyone but you is becoming. But sure, go stroke yourself and rage against your made up machine.

          Wait, so my rant doesn't directly apply to you, and yet you feel the need to be inflamed by it and attack me back? You are actually a well-read person that disagrees with me, that's neat! But are you actually going to tell me to my face that what I said is not true? That there's not a subset of people that think and act like I detailed and that such subset is of significant size and relevance to be viewed as a norm rather than as the exception?

          If you truly believe so, I recommend a dive into youtube or facebook that should prove most illustrative, or rather I don't. I can't in full conscience suggest that to anyone, even to someone violently disagreeing with me. As you yourself said "Even if someone disagrees, that’s no right for you to go on such a disgusting spiel..."

          And to answer your very valid point about realism of portrayed interaction with the aid of aural cues, I'll say: Sure, someday, maybe. While Voice Action for games remains an infra-career in western countries you can almost /expect/ horrible voice acting that will detract of the experience rather than add to it. For comparison, would you like a game that to follow "modern" gaming standards uses 3D graphics but they look as poorly made as good ol' Virtua Fighter's back in the 90's? Following your logic, I could argue that providing a 3-dimensional movement space it's by default superior than the less-real, say, Street Fighter Alpha even if the quality is completely crap.

          I much rather read the text and let my imagination provide the voice (where apparently you can only find disruptive pockets of non-realism) than gritting my teeth every time a character speaks in an obnoxious or however else annoying voice.

    Japanese voices man
    The fact that I don't understand Japanese actually helps I reckon
    That said, Tales of Vesperia had quality English dubs

      The day you learn to speak jap, every game has the same dialogue. Well. Not every, but it gets pretty samey

        I know what you mean, although I'm pretty sure you don't need to understand Japanese to figure that out.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Why would anyone complain about Japan voice acting and not the western dubbed voice acting? I know there are some horrible, or not on par Japanese voice actors, but I don't think that can compare to the whiny/corny/plain bad voice acting of some English versions. I'd gladly keep and listen to the Japanese voice actors of any game than play one that had been dubbed over by English.

      Comprehension fail much?
      Nobody is talking about Japanese VA except to say it's better to not understand it in Japanese than to hear bad VA in English.

    All they need is an option to turn voices off or voice volume down.
    If you are gonna whine about voice acting yet couldn't be bothered to switch the language or turn down the voice acting, your argument is invalid.
    I like voice acting. I like recognizing voices from other shows or games.
    But I do understand it gets annoying. Sometimes the voices are better in Japanese (like 80% of anime) and sometimes they're better in english (like DBZ)
    Regardless, all they need is options. Ruling them out completely is a dumb idea.

    I agree pretty much completely. While there are some games that pull it off really well, for the most part english voice acting is a bit of a deterrent..

    I've also got to say, I went out and bought Trails In The Sky because of you going on about it all the time, and was not disappointed. The dialogue in it is awesome - so many hilarious moments, so many tense emotional moments. It would definitely be ruined if it was heard instead of read.

    The main point of this article I don't agree with is this line - "In theory this should be awesome. It should allow writers to tell better stories. " How often do you hear a phrase similar to "The book is better." I think many people realise & understand that reading a story often adds a lot more personality to it, because it allows us to apply our own version of the personality - we can love a hero more, hate a villain more, get attachments to characters we were never really intended to, just because we can interpret things in our own way. It's almost as if having the patience to read a book over watching a movie rewards us. Cup noodles (the quick & easy option, that's going to have a similar result) vs a proper cooked meal (it takes longer to do, it's not as easy, and has a similar result, but it's just much more satisfying).

    This analogy can be compared to voice acting in games too. Using voice acting is like the movie & cup of noodles. It makes it easier, simpler, more accessible (usually all good things) - but unless it's a REALLY good one of those things, it just doesn't seem as good as the alternative, which takes longer, requires more 'effort' from the user, and may drive away a large chunk of consumers who think "reading is for nerds".

    By no means a fool-proof analogy or anything, but it's a simplified take on a complex topic that everyone is going to have differing opinions about :P

      "The dialogue in it is awesome – so many hilarious moments, so many tense emotional moments. It would definitely be ruined if it was heard instead of read"

      Nope, disagree, Y's 3 (same guys who made Trails in the Sky) was originally released without voice but had them subsequently added for the PSP. Objectively it is a superior experience.

    There are good points in here, but getting rid of Voice Acting completely? Never going to happen for reasons that they're already expected to be a feature in a reasonably good-budget game.

    I personally don't think voice acting should be removed. As with all things, the success of voice acting depends on the quality of execution. While Jason makes the point that it's difficult to objectively judge whether voice acting itself is "bad" or "good", oftentimes it's the quality of the voice acting along with the accompanying dialogue that does set off how you feel about the voices. Voice acting done competently will often be more palatable to hear than shoddy voice acting.

    Besides, any one aspect of a creative work can ellicit negative feelings towards it. Let's say we remove the voice acting, and just leave the written dialogue in. What if the written dialogue itself as you read makes you cringe with disgust? In that case, whether the voice acting was present did little to prevent you walking away with a bad taste in your mouth. Just because the dialogue is vocalized in your head instead of having audible voices doesn't automatically make it better if the source dialogue is disagreeable.

    I also point to the examples of movies to show that voice acting shouldn't be all bad. There is a reason that the silent movie has become a rarity in media. It's because when done right, voices add a layer of depth to the portrayal of a story that can better convey the message it's trying to tell. If I see a scene with a woman crying but with no sound, unless context has been provided beforehand it wouldn't ellicit much reaction, but the same scene with the sound of the woman crying can make it more emotionally receptive. If the crying sounds like a donkey honking then yes it is bad, but if the crying sounds genuine the emotional impact can be profound, and make the scene much better than had it been silent.

    The problem with JRPG's is that often the talent behind the English voice acting is average and sometimes subpar, whether it be with the voice directing or the voice actors themselves. But just because they deliver less-than-stellar performances doesn't mean that Voice Acting as a whole should be scrapped from games. It just means that voice acting as a profession should step up their game and make their verbal dialogues worth listening to. Difficult to do with some of the constraints of lip-synching english dialogue to mouths that speak Japanese, but certainly it can be done (I'm a self-admitted sub fan who prefers his dubs in their original Japanese, and yet when I play Valkyria Chronicles I prefer the english audio since asides from a few slips, they do a very good job with it).

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this article.

    You know what's the worst thing? The mindless masses that equate technological advance with quality and DEMAND that every game nowadays have voice acting as a hallmark of their "modernity" or Jenova knows what.

    Seriously one of the biggest complains I keep hearing about TLoZ: Skyward Sword is that it doesn't have VA. Those complains are usually trumpeted with ridiculous claims like "c'mon is not 1991 anymore." I can only watch in disbelief and shake my head.

      I think you just have a case of obsession with twisted nostalgia; voice acting will and always be better than not having it. Blaming bad experiences with voice acting is not excuse to do away with it, the same can be said that a few bad eggs are not excuses to do away with the whole basket.

        Zelda is a weird one. I grew up with Zelda and part of me wants to leave it as it is without voice acting but whenever I played the newer ones it felt a bit weird having them stand there silently. I wouldn't mind voice acting but Nintendo are screwed either way and they'll have to get it perfect.

        But like you said, voice acting will and always be better than not having it. Go ahead Nintendo, put in voice acting but give me the option to turn it off so it feels like the previous Zeldas. People who want it, have it there and people who don't have the option to turn it off. Win win for us IMO :P

          Alright. Please elaborate how having VA is always superior to not having to the point that studious should spend a big part of their budget in adding it. Please provide good, logical reasons reasons beyond "maaan, reading is boring, only grandmas and nerds like to read, amiright?"

            It was plmko's point but I just said it from a consumer's perspective. Having it is a "Win win for us IMO" since people who want voice acting get it and people who don't can turn it off.

            Pretty much all the big budget games have voice acting and those that don't are targeted. Games are becoming more than just games and are turning into some sort of interactive movie. Like the article said more games present their "cut-scenes as full-fledged short films, complete with experimental camera angles, ostentatious set pieces, and… voice acting". You'd expect people to talk in real life as you would expect them to talk in video games and that's probably where most of the complaints come from and why most games are making the push towards having voice acting.

            I don't care either way but sometimes it just feels weird when a character is talking but they're not actually talking out loud.

            Completely irrelevant:
            Usually I endure bad dubs but I'm liking what some developers are doing when they bring foreign games over. For certain games I think it's just better than they remain in their native language. Muramasa and Yakuza are some good recent examples I can think of. They're set in Japan so let them speak Japanese. I'm cool with that! Saves them money on a dub too which most people would probably complain about.

            Speaking of which people are getting really complainy when it comes to English dubs. Sure, some are pretty terrible but sometimes I'll hear something that I reckon isn't too bad only to have someone say "BUT THE ORIGINAL (usually Japanese) VOICES ARE SUPERIOR". Honestly, they could be but I'm fine as it is.

    Even though this is a JRPG column, it's not really a JRPG specific thing so it kinda sounds a little inflammatory to focus solely on JRPG voice acting without acknowledging that voice acting across the board generally leaves a bit to be desired. Action games and FPSes are especially notorious for dodgy voice acting because of the abundance of one liners and "action" noises (Getting hit, or lifting heavy things, or throwing things, etc.). They generally tend to have a throwaway plot as well just to get you from A to B so the writing material isn't always the best. However, truly great voice actors will still provide excellent performances despite their source material.

    But yes, JRPGs and WRPGs all tend to have a lot more problems because their plots are generally more substantial and have a lot of dialogue in them.

      I think your exageriating there..voice acting isnt a bad thing..the reason he's focusing on JRPG's is alot of the problem comes from being lost in translation

    Yeah, using Skyward Sword as an example, it does look strange as graphics get more realistic to see the "flapping heads" while you read text. It's like they're asking you to suspend your disbelief aurally but not physically. There's a clash there. It's like how Lost Odyssey had these realistically proportioned characters, which then looked absolutely absurd standing in nice straight lines taking turns to be hit by the enemy. The closer graphics come to reality, the harder it is to accept our old-school gaming traditions instilled into them.

    Speaking of Lost Odyssey, dare I bring up Jensen? That guy sounded like a game-show host acting in a completely different game. Couldn't stand him!

    I don't think you can go BACK. I can't see Square-Enix saying, "You know what, our voice acting is bad. Let's get rid of it and go back to flapping-heads and text." It's just not gonna happen. But I have to agree. FF10 and the FF13s had absolutely AWFUL voice-acting that kinda just made me hate the characters. (It didn't help that the dialogue was so corny either, but perhaps it wouldn't have been as noticeable if it had just been in text...) Ironically, FF12's voice-acting was generally pretty darn good.

    Oh, P.S... Don't call Aeris "Aerith." It thounds like you're thpeaking with a lithp.

      "Oh, P.S… Don’t call Aeris “Aerith.” It thounds like you’re thpeaking with a lithp."

      lmfao

      --

      I agree completely with FFX and FFXII having terrible VA.
      I could just strangle them.. "ya know.." -_-
      But I did love FFXII. Brilliant game.

      I find it sad that people want VA to be gone when 90% of the time you can just switch it off in options.
      What's worse is people who want JRPGs (or RPGs as they're known to me) gone completely.
      People these days, kids in particular are freaking retarded I swear.

      I think you could go back to just text. Just on handhelds. On console releases these days, people expect a lot.

    The trouble with that FF7 example was that that dialogue was awful AS TEXT.

    Good voice acting adds to a game (e.g. Persona 4, the Uncharted series). Cheap and nasty voice acting for the sake of having voice acting detracts from a game and shouldn't be done. Terrible writing is still terrible writing whether spoken or not.

    Sometimes crappy voice acting adds to the JRPG charm. I find I am much more harsh towards western voice acting / writing as the source material is closer to the end result.

      Agreed. Like the PSX Tales of Phantasia battle voices.

      "Iceh Tornadeh"

      XD Adorable and fun to spam

    I really think the issue probably comes from the fact that with JRPGs we're playing localisations, not the original voice acting, otherwise surely this argument would be applying to ALL games with voice acting.

    Localisation means we have the double whammy of occasionally awkward translation (what might be stunning dialogue losing all of its rhythm and impact by a less-talented writer doing the translating) and then voice acting directed by a voice director who probably has a couple of extra degrees of separation from the game itself. Casting was probably outsourced, the budget was probably less than for the actors in the original language, and who knows what other hoops needed to be jumped - length in some cases probably an issue, meaning actors would wind up having to perform slower or faster than the original rhythm, which would also affect performance.

    An insight into how the French, German, Spanish and Italian audiences feel all the time perhaps?

    oh, PLEASE...japanese games dubs are always going to be voiced the way they are because anime is done the same way. this article doesnt really approach the issue from both sides; it instead just whines and whines about something that very likely wont change. i personally like my games(and i play jrpgs primarily) to be voiced over and with the rare exception of truly trashy dubs(like arc rise fantasia[great game, though]), it is really difficult for me to dislike or be turned off of a game because i dont like a character's voice. there are so many worse problems to nitpick about, such as holes in storyarcs and things that a truly detrimental to a gaming experience.

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